It was my last Saturday night living in the east end, and I spent it at the Down One Lounge, a fairly large basement pub that caters to the younger crowd in the area.
Vibes & Stuff on Saturday nights features DJs NV and Vision spinning hiphop, soul, R&B, reggae and old-school jazz funk for a mixed crowd that reflects the diversity of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood.
The bar is more of a social space than a dance club, but that didn't stop the breakdancers from strutting their stuff in front of the DJ booth. Even the more gravity-challenged feet were moving by the end of the night, when DJ NV pulled out the funk and reggae classics.
A nice, low-key alternative to the glitz of clubland: reasonable cover, no dress code and a healthy lack of attitude.
Art galleries aren't usually the best places to go for a full-on party, but Art System isn't most galleries.
Funded by the Student Union of OCAD and co-managed by infamous art brat Jubal Brown, Art System has been the location for many below-the-radar events. Last Friday's one-night art show/party, Dance Dance Dance, ended up being more of a party than an art show. Not that the art was lacking, but the place was packed to the point of making it hard to actually see the pieces and the dance floor ended up taking over the whole main room.
As is to be expected these days, the night was 80s-themed and many of the partiers were in full costume. While many quality DJs played in the course of the evening, it was Aki's set that tore the roof off the joint. Mixing up new wave, classic house, disco and funk, Aki proved that he can pull off more styles than the Latin jazz mixes he's known for. You probably never thought you'd hear him playing Depeche Mode and old acid house. Even the too-bright gallery lighting couldn't hold the dancers back.
Last week was a rough one for soulful house, when two new weeklies pulled in far fewer heads then the promoters had hoped.
Friday at Savannah was the first night of Friday Night Special, with residents Paul E. Lopes, Patrick Paredes and special guest Chris Lum of Moulton Studios fame. Good music all around, but where was the crowd?
It was the same story Sunday at Blu (formerly Kashmere) for the opening night of Intemit, featuring the Soul Fusion Express crew on the decks. Their Tuesday-night soulful house show on 88.1FM was a big supporter of this sound long before it was popular, but unfortunately not many of their listeners made it out last week. Residencies sometimes take a while to build steam, but there does seem to be a house music fatigue setting in among regular partiers.
For the past few years it's been very refreshing to hear musical, soulful, vocal house getting such a warm reception in Toronto, but there are so many club events -- not to mention the exploding after-hours scene -- dedicated to this sound now that it no longer seems as fresh as it once did.